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ACLU of Oklahoma condemns use of nitrogen gas for death penalty

ACLU of Oklahoma comments on use of nitrogen gas for death penalty (KTUL)

It was announced Wednesday that Oklahoma would become the first state to use nitrogen gas for capital punishment. The ACLU of Oklahoma views this move as "deeply troubling," according to their official statement on the change.

Executive Director Ryan Kiesel, a spokesman for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said "Oklahoma's leaders have demonstrated a new level of incompetence" by continuing to sanction the use of the death penalty in general.

Kiesel continues, "This announcement is silent on the 46 recommendations made by the bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission. The conclusions drawn by this commission paint a picture of a system that fails at multiple points to provide the necessary safeguards in a system that ends with our government, in our name, killing an individual."

The death penalty has been an issue for debate since its inception, with the ACLU arguing for lawmakers to dismiss capital punishment as an option for years now.

"Knowing that a majority of Oklahomans will say they can think of a situation in which the death penalty is an appropriate punishment, they are counting those Oklahomans to stop their critical thinking at that point and not consider the abysmal record of the political leaders who plan to experiment new methods of killing on people who may or may not be guilty," Kiesel said.

In 2015, a botched execution in Oklahoma sparked outrage after it was found that the Department of Corrections failed to follow protocol after using the wrong drug for a lethal injection. The Grand Jury found that the state had experimented with potassium acetate in the execution of Charles Warner in January of that year, possibly due to the shortage of drugs commonly administered for the death penalty. Warner's last words were that he felt like his body was "on fire."

The ACLU ends its statement with a plea to Oklahoma citizens: "The question Oklahomans must ask is not whether they support the death penalty, but rather, do they trust this government with the power to kill its citizens."

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